The Carolina Hurricanes extended their point streak to five games in a 5-3 win against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Nino Niederreiter tallied a pair of goals, including what would be the game-winner on the power play, and his 300th career NHL point in the victory.
HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTO GALLERY | STATISTICS
The Canes had played a solid game - their game - but in a span of three minutes and 10 seconds late in the second period, they saw their 2-0 lead evaporate into a tied game. Flashbacks to losing a 2-0 lead against Florida on Wednesday, right?
Not only that, but just prior, the Canes came within inches of making it a 3-0 game twice in a 40-second span, as Martin Necas and Jaccob Slavin hammered the post. That second miss then led to a Patrick Kane spin-o-rama backhand goal at the other end, a tough bounce soon after an otherwise threatening power play. Then, with 10.5 seconds left in the second period, Ian Mitchell stepped up and rifled a shot past James Reimer on a delayed penalty sequence to tie the game at two.
That could have been a momentum-shifter, but the Canes didn't come off their game in the third period. They continued to take it to the Blackhawks and netted a pair of power play goals to reclaim their advantage. Slavin then found the empty net from 147 feet away to seal the Canes' win.
"We played a pretty good second period. We had our chances. Just a couple unlucky breaks at the end. Roddy just came in and said, 'Keep doing it the right way,'" Slavin said. "Our power play came up huge in the third period. That was the difference-maker tonight. It was a good team effort for pretty much the full 60 minutes."
In just 15 games, Niederreiter is two goals shy of equaling his goal total from 67 games last season, a "hiccup" season, as Niederreiter called it.
"Last year there was a lot of overthinking and trying to do too much," he said. "I'm glad to find that jam again and play the way I am right now."
Goal scoring is funny like that. You get a few, and it snowballs one way. You don't get a few, and it snowballs the other. Niederreiter is building himself quite the snowman with a team-leading nine goals.
"He's getting pucks to go in. Last year, he just couldn't buy one," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "The confidence is definitely flowing in him right now."
Niederreiter got the Canes on the board first not too long after their killed their first penalty of the game late in the opening frame. Niederreiter let go of a laser wrist shot that caromed in off the shinpad of Nikita Zadorov.
Video: CHI@CAR: Niederreiter goes far side for opening goal
He's getting those sorts of bounces this season.
In the third period, Niederreiter helped grow the Canes' lead with a power-play marker, finishing off a deft one-touch pass from Jesper Fast in the slot.
Video: CHI@CAR: Niederreiter buries dish for power-play goal
"Nino has been playing great," Necas said. "He's been on the scoresheet a lot. He's playing really good in front of the net and around the net."
Necas was officially on the scoresheet with a goal and an assist, but his aggressive forecheck led to Niederreiter's first goal, a play that didn't get tangibly recognized.
Necas provided solid first-man pressure on the puck, forcing former Hurricane Calvin de Haan to cough up the puck. The Canes then won a board battle to claim the possession, and skill (and a little luck with the bounce in front) took over from there.
"He's definitely matured in his game. He's really becoming very noticeable," Brind'Amour said. "His speed is an asset. I think his confidence has just really grown, and you can see it in the way he's playing. He's been really solid."
Necas netted a power-play goal 2:28 into the third period to reclaim the Canes' advantage. Kevin Lankinen made the initial save on Necas' wrist shot, but the puck floated into the air, bounced off the crossbar and then pinballed in off de Haan.
Video: CHI@CAR: Necas' shot pinballs in on power play
Bean has established himself in the Canes' lineup with three points (3a) in his last three games, and he deserves fist bumps tonight if for no other reason than this backhand pass to Vincent Trocheck for the tally in the second period.
Video: CHI@CAR: Bean, Trocheck team up to double lead
"I'm really happy for him," Necas said of Bean. "His skill set as a D is unbelievable. He just needs to build his confidence, and as you can see now, he's making those little plays and playing well.
300: With the secondary assist on Trocheck's goal in the second period, Niederreiter notched the 300th point of his NHL career (145g, 155a).
6: With his goal in the second period, Trocheck extended his point streak to six games (3g, 5a), the longest point streak by a Canes player this season.
8: Reimer made 26 saves to win his eighth game of the season.
You Be the Judge
Brett Pesce was hauled down in the neutral zone with open ice in front of him.
The officials assessed a tripping minor to Adam Boqvist instead of awarding Pesce the penalty shot. In practice, Pesce has made a habit of smoking slapshots by goaltenders in this very situation - and who wouldn't have wanted to see that? - but the Canes scored on the ensuing power play, anyway.
No Context Image of the Night
Quote of the Night
"We had a great game tonight. I thought we could have had 10 goals. We were on it, and I didn't think we gave up a ton." - Rod Brind'Amour
What was a back-to-back against the Blackhawks is now a back-to-back against Chicago and Tampa Bay, who the Canes face in four straight games beginning on Saturday night.
"They're a great team, so we've just got to dig in," Slavin said, shovel in hand. "It's going to be an important four games."